Sunday, September 7, 2014

HFF Challenge #7: Innovative Food

Mea Culpa.  I'm a day late on this challenge, having been mistaken that #7 was canning & preserves (it is, in fact, #8).

From "The Principles and Practice of Vegetarian Cookery" by John Smith (London, 1860)

Root, Herb and other Savoury Pies 
420 Potatoes two pounds; onions two ounces; butter one ounce; water half a pint. Pare and cut the potatoes, put a layer of onions cut small between the layers of potatoes, season with pepper and salt lay the butter at the top in small pieces, pour in the water, cover the whole with paste and bake. 

The onions may be replaced by mushrooms cut small. Hard boiled eggs cut in slices or small pieces may be distributed between the layers. Half an ounce of tapioca or sago is an improvement; these should be well washed and steeped in cold water before they are added, or they may be reduced to a jelly and added to the pie when baked. When mushrooms are not used the flavour may be improved by the addition of a little ketchup which may either be added when the pie is made or poured in with a little melted butter,etc., after the pie has been baked. Some add a little celery or powdered sage, sliced turnips, carrots, asparagus or other vegetables.

I'm justifying this for the "improvements in cooking" challenge, as vegetarianism was a sort of new fad diet/lifestyle option among mid-19th century reformers.

The Challenge: The Best Thing Since Sliced Bread

The Recipe: Vegetarian savoury pie of potatoes and onion (receipt 420), given above

Date/Year & Region: British, 1860

How Did You Make It:  I halved the recipe, using 1 pound of russet potatoes and one ounce white onions.  For variety, I also added one sliced carrot, a stick of celery, a pinch of parsley from the window-box.  Paste prepared according to receipt 190 for puff paste in the same volume (again, halved to 8 oz. flour, 4 oz shortening, 2 egg yolks, and 1/4 c. water).  Bake at 350F until crust is browning on the edges, took about half an hour.

Time to Complete:  A little over an hour.

Total Cost: About $2.00 (excluding eggs and flour).

How Successful Was It:  Fairly.  It was just a touch bland, and would probably benefit from a little more salt and pepper (maybe slightly more parsley).  The paste and veggies both baked very nicely.  I will likely make this again.

How Accurate Was It:  Only real deviation from the recipe was in the amount made and shape (I opted to make up the half-reduced pie as two rather generous 'personal' size ones).  Otherwise, I believe all the ingredients and methods conformed to the period.

Sliced vegetables for a Victorian savory pie.
Potato and onion pie from 1860 Vegetarian cookbook.
One personal-sized pie. 

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